The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly yesterday to legalize semiautomatic rifles in Washington, D.C., and repeal its gun registration laws, but the bill’s future appeared in doubt as a prominent senator announced she would try to block it. “If this bill comes to the floor of the United States Senate, I will do everything in my power to stop it,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). It was the second time in four years that the House voted to overturn most D.C. gun laws. The 2004 measure died in the Senate, and a similar result is likely this time.
The latest House action may have already had a tangible effect: Washington announced Tuesday that it was further easing its gun restrictions to comply with the historic Supreme Court decision in June tossing out the city’s 32-year-old handgun ban. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said at least a half-dozen senators planned to put “holds” on the legislation. Such a move subjects the bill to hurdles that would be difficult to clear before the Senate’s adjournment, scheduled for Sept. 26. “The president wants to sign the bill this year,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.